Without fail, the one time you need to get somewhere quickly is exactly when you’ll run into car trouble. But have no fear! Most common car problems are things you can fix yourself with just a few small tools. Here are the top five most common breakdown issues and ways you can avoid and repair them yourself.
1. Dead Battery
If you left your headlights on and drained the battery while you were in the grocery store, then a jump pack can get your car started in a matter of minutes. Simply connect the positive lead to the appropriate terminal on the battery, connect the negative lead to an engine ground or the chassis (NOT the negative battery terminal), turn on the pack and start your car. Once used, put your jump pack on the included charger overnight to recharge it for next time.
2. Flat Tire
Oftentimes, a flat tire is the result of running over a nail or object that punctures the tire. Of course you can always replace your flat tire with the spare donut in your car, but if you keep a can of tire sealant in your spare tire well, you can temporarily repair the full size tire and inflate it all at once and be on your way. Tire sealant not only covers up the puncture, but it also inflates the tire and allows you to get the car safely to your local mechanic for further repair or replacement.
3. Headlight Bulb
Bulb replacement is easy to perform, especially if you keep a spare pack of bulbs in your glove box. Every car may differ slightly, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions. To change headlights on most cars, open your hood and, from the back of the lamp assembly, remove the rubber boot that protects the headlight. Unplug the wire harness and release the clip that holds the bulb in place. Be sure not to touch the glass part of your new bulb with your finger, as the oil from your hand can cause it to burn out prematurely. Replace the bulb in reverse order.
4. Wiper Blades
Keeping a spare set of wiper blades in the trunk of your car will help keep you safe when you discover your old ones are no longer effective when it’s already pouring out. To replace the blade, slide the small clip that attaches the blade to the wiper arm down and discard the old blade. Now install your new blade into the same groove, making sure it clicks into place.
5. Hose Leak
Over time, your radiator hoses can dry out and leak, causing your car to overheat. When this happens, a hose repair kit comes in handy and can get you back on the road quickly. First, allow the engine to cool down, then use a knife to cut out the leaking section of hose at two spots across from each other. Apply the included rubber cement to the coupling in the kit that fits your hose, and then install it along with the included clamps. With the hose repaired, you can make the trip to your local NAPA AutoCare facility to have the hose replaced entirely.
Sometimes common car problems are as simple to repair as having the right tools on hand. Keeping a jump pack and a few other small items in your trunk can get you off the side of the road quickly and safely.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on avoiding common car trouble, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Morgue File
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.